Incredible Photochromes of Tunisia in the 1890s

These amazing coloured images of Tunisia in the 1890s highlight the incredible process of photochrom – where colour is added to previously monochrome photographs take prior to coloured photography.

The results are remarkable considering the process was invented all the way back in the 1880s by a Swiss printer, which involved applying a light-sensitive emulsion to the lithographic limestone before placing a photo negative onto it and leaving it exposed to the sun.

After a few hours, the emulsion hardens to the most prominent tones present in the images. Less prominent hardened sections would be removed using a solvent, resulting in a permeant image on the limestone.

In the case of these postcards of Tunisia, extensive details regarding the original colours of the image were provided by the photographer that captured them, which were then used to create further litho stones to feature that tone.

To achieve the final results found on these post cards, it’s likely that over a dozen stones the various colour tones had to be produced. As you can see, the finished product is certainly impressive, providing a wonderful insight into life in Tunisia in the 1890s.

Souc-el-Trouk, Tunis

A street in Kairwan

Arabs in Tunis

Cathedral of St. Louis, Carthage

Private drawing room, Kasr-el-Said

Bedchamber of the late Bey of Tunis, Kasr-el-Said

A view of Kairwan from the minaret of the Great Mosque

A market in Kairwan

A street scene in Kairwan

A street scene in Kairwan

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